It has been nearly 8 yrs. since GoToby.com triggered a state-led investigation, 4 yrs. from Kasper’s being charged with 2 first degree felonies and 1 yr. since her plea deal.
PALM COAST, FL – September 3, 2015 – A Flagler County $9M mortgage fraud that began in the summer of 2006 involving well-known Flagler Beach real estate agent Linda Kasper has finally reached closure. Kasper’s real estate license was recently revoked by Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Services.
Kasper was originally charged in March 2011 with two counts of fraud, each a first degree felony. She plead to a reduced second degree felony in September 2014 shortly before an impending trial.
When Kasper failed to notify the Florida Real Estate Commission about the adjudication within the required 20 days, a complaint was filed against her on September 11, 2014. That complaint was closed on July 24, 2015 with a Final Order revoking Kasper’s real estate license. Public records show the license became inactive August 30, 2015.
During the nine years from the 2006 fraud to the August 30, 2015 revocation, Kasper’s real estate license remained in good standing as she continued to practice real estate sales with Tavolacci Realty.
During the “Wild West” days of the real estate bubble, anything was possible. It was the real estate equivalent of a Viagra Party. It was during those times that this story had its genesis. In the second half of 2006, a handful of local real estate brokers reported some suspicious transactions; the selling price and listing price were apparently manipulated.
By June 2007, regulators had yet to initiate an investigation. One of the frustrated brokers passed the group’s suspicions to me at GoToby.com. Within weeks, I expanded the list of suspicious transactions to 18. Kasper, affiliated then and for the next nine years with Tavolacci Realty in Flagler Beach, was the buying agent on 17 of the 18 suspect transactions.
On June 26, 2007 I contacted the Jacksonville office of the FBI to report my findings. An agent informed me that their focus was on terrorism at the time. Mortgage fraud was not on top of their list. He suggested I contact the Secret Service or state agencies. At the time, none of the transactions had gone into foreclosure according to public records. "No harm, no foul," he said. So I sat back and watched for foreclosures. I didn't have to wait long. In short order, all 18 homes were in foreclosure.
Once the foreclosures began, I called the State of Florida Mortgage Fraud hot line where I was referred to the Florida Office of Financial Regulation. I drove to Jacksonville where I met with Elizabeth Peters, Financial Examiner for the Office of Financial Regulation's Jacksonville field office December 5, 2007 and presented my documentation package. I was told an investigation would commence soon; that I would be contacted by an investigator.
After waiting four months, I became impatient and called upon State Assemblyman Bill Proctor's office for assistance. I heard from Office of Financial Regulation the next day. My file had apparently been "misplaced." Back to Jacksonville, where I provided a duplicate set of documents. The official investigation was begun in April 2008. The investigation was ultimately turned over to FDLE. In the three years leading to the charging affidavit, FDLE developed additional evidence on the original 18 transactions and uncovered five more.
The investigation, named "Operation Fast Cash Kickback," resulting in Kasper's arrest was announced jointly by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), the Florida Office of Financial Regulation, the Office of the Attorney General's Office of Statewide Prosecution, and the Flagler County Sheriff's Office March 14, 2011. The scheme spanned Flagler, Volusia and Lake Counties, involved 23 homes (including the 18 provided by this website) and resulted in more than $9 million in losses. Fifteen individuals were charged with one count of Criminal Racketeering and one count of Conspiracy to Commit Racketeering, both First-degree Felonies. Kasper was the only one of the 15 from Flagler County.
The arrest announcement stated; "The two-year investigation, named “Operation Fast Cash Kickback,” focused on a complex scheme involving home buyers, realtors, appraisers, and mortgage brokers. Investigators allege the charged individuals artificially raised home prices, falsified appraisals, and pocketed large amounts of cash by facilitating a series of fraudulent home sales. The scam involved using “straw buyers” to purchase a home. The straw buyer’s realtor then asked the seller to raise the price of the home in order for the difference to be provided back to the straw buyer for alleged “renovations.” The appraiser would then inflate the price of the home to meet the contract sales price. At closing, a designated third party individual or shell company received the proceeds for “renovations,” which ranged from $25,000 to $320,000 for each sale. The third party recipient then returned a majority of the funds back to the straw buyer via check or wire transfer. No renovations were ever conducted on the homes and each of the properties foreclosed a short time after the sale. The estimated loss to date is approximately $9 million."
The FDLE investigators felt that the strength of their case would lead to a quick plea deal with Kasper. They did not predict more than three years of legal maneuvering or that Kasper would continue to practice real estate for four more years.
You may request copies of the Kasper Charging Affidavit and Plea Agreement by emailing me at Toby@GoToby.com.